Issue #127—April 16, 2021
The other day I called a restaurant about a special tasting menu they were offering that night with a local winery that some friends of ours are partners in.
I couldn’t find the info I was looking for on their website so I dialed the number…but before anyone answered, I found it. So I hung up, figuring I’d just book a table online.
Not more than a minute later the phone rings, and it was someone from the restaurant. I ended up booking a table in the kitchen, something I may not have been able to do online. The hostess and I also had a fun conversation where I shared with her my “hang up” secret for getting calls instantly returned to me.
(It works wonders with my young adult children, or just about anyone else…versus leaving a voice mail message!)
That’s because when you don’t leave a message, it opens a loop that BEGS to be closed. Since there’s no further detail revealed, it creates curiosity to find out just what that call was about.
The same is true with a stealthy tactic used for decades in direct mail: the plain #10 envelope with simply a return address (if that)…and no teaser on the front to tip its hand that it’s an ad. It creates insatiable curiosity (“what if I don’t open it and it’s something important?”)
By opening a loop in your copy–whether it’s in an email, online sales page, or VSL–and not closing it right away, you create that irresistible need for your prospect to close that open loop.
It makes them read that next sentence of your sales page…click that link in your email or Facebook ad…or open up and read that direct mail promo.
You don’t want to overdo this “open loop” technique and create what starts to feel like an endless spiral for your prospect where they’re getting jerked around…or sense they’re going backwards.
You want to use it to create that trail of breadcrumbs that keeps them moving forward into your sales copy…because the more you draw them in, the more they become convinced and are more likely to take the desired action.
So if you want someone to call you back, hang up and don’t leave a message.
And if you want your prospect to get hooked into reading your copy, open a loop that begs to be closed!
I’ve got an example of a promo that opens this way that we’re going to take a look at. It’s a sales page for an arthritis solution that Copy Insider Tyler McCune submitted.
Outside of the relatively strong start, I found a lot more “don’t’s” than “do’s” when going through this promo. So let’s take a look!
What’s in Kim’s Mailbox?
Let’s start by taking a look at what we see at the top of the sales page when we land on it. There’s a masthead at the top that makes it feel more advertorial versus like a sales page…
As you can see, the main headline makes a strong speed of result claim (“54 seconds”).
However, the first two words (“Relief” and “Freedom”) keep you guessing what it’s actually talking about until you get to the 3rd sentence, unless you read the masthead or pre-head, which a lot of people skip.
I’m also expecting the subhead to add some proof or a mechanism to support the big promise in the main headline, but it just makes more promises.
Then we’re into the empathy-type lead, which in my opinion rushes through things a bit. It could take more time to agitate the problem the prospect is experiencing, how it limits and affects their life, and the frustrations they have with alternate so-called solutions.
It’s also using the word “arthritis” which would be an outright compliance issue for a supplement, but this is for a liquid you apply to your skin whose main ingredient is DMSO, so it may be okay to use a disease name here–I’m not a lawyer!
By the way, I’m almost done reading a book called “White Oleander” whose main character’s mother murders someone using DMSO, because it allows for other toxic substances to be easily absorbed through the skin. So be careful with the stuff!
(Before agreeing to write any promo, always ask yourself: would I give this to my own mother? And would she use it to murder someone?? Okay, kidding…)
In any case, the big promises continue, and we’re not waiting too long to get back to that big speed of result claim in the main headline, which is good. And thus the open loop is opened…begging to be closed!
If you suffer from arthritis, you just have to keep reading to find out what this solution is that works so quickly. But you know what you’re not going to find out?
Who the heck is Kevin?!
And why should I listen to him? “Pain specialist” seems purposefully vague, like they’re hiding something. Plus not mentioning his last name (is he wanted for murder-by-DMSO?)
I’m feeling like the copywriter here is taking the lazy route here…not providing enough details about the other options that “don’t work”…and not painting a picture of the daily struggles the prospect is dealing with. There’s a failure to connect and make the prospect feel understood.
The copy moves quickly into talking about the big “secret” and then drops a quote from the New York Times to establish credibility. It then abruptly transitions to the following crosshead and the copy that follows…
Going from the aforementioned quote (you can click on any of the above images to go to the sales page) to the crosshead feels like an abrupt transition.
Then where I’ve indicated with red arrows, there’s another abrupt transition…and another. It’s like they had all these pieces of the puzzle they wanted to make sure they included (like “selling readership”) and then just stuck them in, without making sure they fit properly.
And we have more “lazy” copy with “who-knows-what later”. How hard is it to look up long-term side effects of NSAIDs and then mention them in a compliant way? Then there’s a possible compliance issue with naming big-company-name drugs (it’s obvious that no one from “legal” reviewed this.)
But wait…there are more “Don’t’s” that I want to point out (I can’t point out all of them, so I’m just focusing on a few…)
There are several testimonials featured throughout within inset boxes like these, and just about all of them have obvious typos in them like the one I circled.
Also, assuming these are actually real testimonials, it is possible to pick and choose what you include (without over-editing so they sound too slick).
Case in point: in the second testimonial above, I would have taken out the sentence I circled about not being able to afford another bottle till he gets his next Social Security check. Just leave that out, as it’s going to make the prospect think it must be too expensive and you could lose them.
As we near what I think is the close section, we have more “disconnects” and abrupt transitions. There’s a disconnect from the crosshead to the paragraph that follows it…and then the paragraph after that…and the crosshead and section after that…
Then if you read through the copy from there (you can click the image above), the close copy goes on far longer than I feel it should. It’s like the salesman that doesn’t stop talking after already giving you their full spiel. More close copy is not always better!
Okay, there’s just a few more things I want to point out here about this promo. Take a look at the copy leading up to the guarantee below…
They’re saying all you need to try is “one bottle–just one month’s supply”. But why would you say it that way if you want them to buy 3 or 6 bottles? This is hurting the average order size and value.
Why not tie this back instead to that big speed of result claim made earlier, and put it into their mind that they’re likely going to know if it’s working for them right away…but we’re willing to back it up for a full 365 days.
Because once you start experiencing how great life is without your agonizing back and joint pain, you’re going to want to keep using this product (or something like that!)
I decided to check out the company behind this product, because I felt after reviewing this promo a lot of things felt kind of sketchy. Turns out if you take them up on this “365 days money back guarantee”, good luck getting your money back! Here’s what a Google search turned up…
I decided to see if they’d still take my money anyway by clicking through to the order page. Sure enough, they were “open” for business! Although it says the current availability is “running low” (what do you want to bet it always is?)
As you can see, there are a lot of lessons on what NOT to do here. Many of the mistakes and shortcuts could have been averted and the promo made far stronger if the copywriter had put more time and care into the research and writing of it.
Chances are this is a company that didn’t want to invest in a more experienced copywriter or wanted everything done under a super-unrealistic timeline.
And if they’re not in business anymore and still taking orders, well, that’s a problem, too. Hope that copywriter didn’t have a royalty-only deal!
That’s all I’ve got for you today. Hope you found this breakdown useful and you can apply the “what NOT to do” lessons to your own promos.
Be sure to use that “open loop” hang-up secret in your copy as well…and the next time you want someone to call you back!
Yours for smarter marketing,
P.S. Today’s breakdown is also a good reminder that the way to attract better-quality, higher-paying clients into your life is to get yourself known for having some sort of unique strength or advantage. My friend Kevin Rogers’ RFL (Real Free Life) freelance business-building coaching program helps you do just that.
This 8-week program starts on April 28th–less than 2 weeks from now–and the doors are closing on the 27th. You can find out more about RFL and decide if it’s a good fit for you here.
Remember, if you join RFL via one of my email links, shoot me over your sign-up receipt at Kim@kimschwalm.com and I’ll give you a 30-minute “hot seat” one-on-one coaching session as an exclusive bonus.